Julie Collis

Time running out for Campbell River Hospice

The society wants to open one palliative care bed, which would be the only one of its kind on the North Island

The clock is ticking and time is running out for the Campbell River Hospice Society which desperately needs to find a new home.

The society has been operating out of the Dogwood Street professional building beside the Curling Club but the owner – the Association for Community Living – needs the space back.

Hospice, which offers compassionate companionship to those with terminal illnesses and support to families dealing with the grief of losing a loved one, has until its lease expires Oct. 31 to find a new home.

In a bid to raise money for a new Hospice House, the society is entered in and vying for a $150,000 grand prize from the Aviva Community Fund. The winner is selected based on the number of votes a project can garner from the public online.

Iona Wharton, director of programs and services for Campbell River Hospice, said Hospice House is a project that will eventually affect everyone.

“End of life and grief support is going to touch every single person in this town at one time or another,” Wharton said. “Almost every single person in this town will be palliative or will be touched by someone who is palliative.”

Which is where Hospice House comes in. The society wants to open one palliative care bed, which would be the only one of its kind on the North Island. The bed would allow a terminally ill patient to pass away in a quiet, home-like setting, rather than in hospital. Hospice House would also fill a void for those patients who don’t have anyone to care for them in their final days. With older patients, the caregiver is often an elderly spouse whot does not have the means to provide them with the medical care they require.

Hospice provides those type of services and all are free of charge, despite receiving no core funding. All the fundraising the society does goes towards keeping the doors open.

Wharton points out that the grief counselling Hospice provides would typically cost at least $120. At Hospice, counsellors help terminal patients reflect on their lives and capture experiences and memories through scrapbooking, writing, audio or visual storytelling.

Wharton said the society would like to offer even more but it’s just not possible in the limited space Hospice currently occupies.

But with its own home, the society would like to expand on its programming to offer play therapy and art therapy for children, plant a healing garden and start a day program for palliative patients where they can interact with others in similar situations. It would also provide respite for caregivers who are providing 24-hour care.

Wharton is encouraging the entire community to go online and vote in the Aviva contest to make Hospice’s dreams a reality.

“We really want the town to get behind us in voting, it’s something we could win but it would take the whole town to rally,” Wharton said. “We’re up against some pretty stiff competition but if we could get everyone to vote once. We’re just asking for a few minutes of your time.”

Julie Collis, director of operations for Campbell River Hospice, said it’s been a difficult year trying to raise the big dollars.

“It’s still pretty thin,” Collis said. “We’ve got a lot of people saying they want to help but no one’s walking through the door with any big cheques.”

Collis noted that Hospice has been helping the community for years and now it’s Hospice’s turn to ask for help.

“In the 27 years we’ve been here, we’ve touched 15,500 people. That’s almost one person out of every couple in this community,” Collis said. “We’ve been there for almost half of our community.”

Now Hospice is hoping the community will be there for them. To vote for Hospice in the Aviva contest, go to www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf17294 where votes can be cast through a Facebook account or through setting up an account on Aviva. Watch for polling stations set up by Hospice downtown starting this weekend as an alternate way of casting a vote.

For help with voting, contact the Hospice Society at 250-286-1121.

Qualifying rounds run from now until Nov. 25, with the top 30 from each price category moving on to the semi-finals which run Dec. 2-Dec. 11. A panel of judges then chooses one winner from each category between Dec. 18 and Jan. 27.